18 steps to making a mini top hat (in the real world)

1. Procrastinate the making of your Halloween costume. You have plenty of time to put something together and your favorite TV show is on tonight. But you’ll definitely start working on it tomorrow. You promise yourself.

2. Initiate panic sequence the day of your Halloween party. You’ve dug through your closet and were able to throw a  costume together, but realize you need a cute mini top hat to top off the outfit.

3.  Hoard multiple empty cereal boxes in your basement. If you’ve actually done this, you were either featured on Hoarders or you were using them to make mini top hats and then decided you would make loads of them to sell. Later you did the math and realized you would have to make one an hour to be profitable. Sadly you were averaging one a weekend.

Cereal boxes for top hats

At least it’s not Lucky Charms..

4. Stockpile yards and scraps of tulle and fabric, along with baubles, buttons, and faux flowers because if there is a zombie apocalypse you know you’ll be able to sell them for a huge mark up.

Tulle and fabric

One day this will be organized. Likely after I fold the laundry and finish my novel…

(If you realize you weren’t proactive enough to have completed steps three and four, your hat making experience will require a trip to the grocery store and/or the craft store. This will add to the stress created by steps number one and two.)

5. Rummage through your supplies to find a color combo that works. It’s best if the materials are spread all over the floor so your cats can roll on, bite and bat all your precious materials. It will also annoy your husband.

6. Use the power of suggestion so that your husband decides he should go to the coffee shop and bring back your favorite beverage.

7. Pick suitable background noise. Music is okay. But I find a showing of The Hunger Games or Vampire Diaries works best. A word of caution though, the background noise should not compete for your full attention. This could lead to hours of watching and no crafting. I’ve seen it happen before. It’s not pretty.

8.  Begin construction. Because you’ve waited until the last minute, there is no time for patterns or measurements. You just use objects around the house that “look” like they’re the right size.

Tracing cup for top hat

I used a water glass to trace the top of the hat.

Fringes for top hat

I follow my traced line when cutting out the top, but actually cut a centimeter or two outside of the line. Then I make these little cuts to create a fringe. Then I fold them in so they can be tucked into the body of the hat.

Tracing bowl for bottom of hat

Then I use a bowl to trace the base of the hat and cut along the traced line.

The strip of cardboard (see below) that makes up the body of the hat will have to be cut a little longer than the circumference of the top of the hat, after the fringes have been folded in.

photo 1-2

This will make it so that the body of the hat ends up being the same width as the top of the hat, but will allow some overlap to glue the ends of the body together. The width (or short part) of your body piece will determine how tall the hat is.

cardboard mini top hat

To make it easier to form the body of the hat I sprinkle it with water and then rub it in a bit. You can now form it into a  tube and glue the ends together. If you want your hat to narrow at the base of the body it will have to be cut into an arc to allow for this. It is a pain but I just keep eyeballing it and trimming it until it is right.

For the base of the hat, you will cut a round hole in the middle of the base that is a little smaller than the circumference of the body. I center the glued body in the middle of the base piece and trace around it. Then when cutting, I follow the line, but cut about a centimeter or two on the inside of the line. Then I cut the little fringes to the traced line (as done with the top of the hat above) and fold the fringes in, so that they can be tucked into the body of the hat (see below).

photo 1-1

The outer line here is where I traced the body, and the inner line is where I would cut to leave myself space to make the fringes.

9. Pause to reheat coffee and discuss how unrealistic a certain vampire character is.

10. I forgot to tell you your husband is also working on a hat. His is a store bought top hat that he is embellishing. After about 20 minutes of work he shows you what he has done. Be careful here. If you are not sensitive in your critique you will end up working on two hats.

11. Begin working on husband’s hat. He has become frustrated, whiny and defeated. But first, pause to go to the bathroom.

12. Once you’ve finished with your husband’s hat, listen to him gloat about how he knew if he whined enough you would just do it for him.

13. Realize that a couple of your cardboard pieces are cut too big, or perhaps the others are too small. Since you can’t make the smaller ones bigger, you trim the larger ones trying not to make things worse. You likely make things worse and now your hat is about half the size you originally planned. Pause to go the bathroom again.

Cardboard mini top hat

You will then insert the fringes of the base into the body of the hat and glue them in place.

cereal box mini top hat

And insert the fringes of the of the top into the body and glue in place. Of course my top was a little big so I had to jam it in there.

Fabric over mini top hat

Then I cut fabric to size (I just eyeballed it). You could have traced the fabric earlier using your cut box pieces, but I like to do things the hard way.

14. Add the finishing touches and repeatedly tell yourself that no one is going to look that closely at it anyway. Curse the earlier cup of coffee because you have to pee again.

Trim around mini top hat

You’ll want to add trim around the top, the base and brim.

15. Attempt to remove the glue strands that are now on the couch, coffee table, cat, your hair and of course clinging to all parts of your hat.

16. Revel in your masterpiece and then realize you’ve been crafting almost all day. You will surely be at least an hour late to the party. Thumb through a magazine and surf the internet for a few minutes.

17. Scramble to get ready and then head to the party. About 10 minutes into the drive you’ll realize the hat is still sitting on your dining room table. Turn back and arrive at the party 45 minutes late.

18. Revel in the fact that you are only 45 minutes late. And you have an amazing top hat! And there you go. I hope you enjoyed my mini top hat tutorial. With the proper amount of hoarding, procrastination, spousal manipulation and caffeine you too can have a top hat just like this!

Red and black mini top hat

And then embellish and attach to a headband or alligator clips. I have no idea how most people attach the hat to the headband, I just glue gun the heck out of it 🙂

Evan’s post – I won’t be kept in the dark any longer

My wife is a vampire. And I’ve known for some time. Because I know when she is lying. I might be a frat boy turned investment banker, but I’m not stupid.

Courtesy SickestFame via Flickr

Courtesy SickestFame via Flickr

She was lying the first time we met, that day by the lockers, when she was harassing my sister. Her nose crinkled up and her eyes searched for a believable story. She was beautiful. A beautiful liar.

I’m not mad. I’m not. I’m frustrated. Why do our lives have to be a charade, an act hidden behind a perfectly constructed façade? I’m tired of it. But she never seems to grow weary, at least that I can tell. She goes on, day to day, like everything is a damn 80’s sitcom.

Then there’s her “friend” that keeps coming by. I’m assuming he’s a vampire too. Maybe he’s the one who turned her or maybe he’s just some guy she met at a vampire potluck. Either way I’m not happy about it. But what can I do? I couldn’t control her when she was human. And now I feel even more powerless. Trapped in my own world of lies and now hers.

But I love her. I always will. As long as she lets me. As long as time and circumstance allow me.

We’ll get through this. I know we will. She’s my Libby. She’s the reason I became who I am. She’s the reason I keep fighting. She’s the reason I lie, the reason I keep secrets–mine, hers and ours.

I guess it could be worse. At least she’s not leaving dead bodies everywhere. I already pay Lucille far more than she’s worth to scrub a toilet and mop some floors. I can’t imagine the fee for dead body removal.

Courtesy Sam Pullara via Flickr

Courtesy Sam Pullara via Flickr

I do have a plan though–for Halloween night. Secrets are going to be shared. I’m dead set on it.

**Why not start the series from the beginning? Click here to read about Libby’s first day as a vampire**

A new season, A new bird

When I was a kid, well, really until my late twenties, I knew a new season had arrived based on obvious clues:

CLUES FROM THE WEATHER

Spring: It’s going to stop snowing any day now. It has to. It can’t go from 78 and sunny one day, to 36 and dreary the next. Wait, yes it can (see fall weather).

spring snow

What spring looks like in Denver
(Image courtesy Warren Brown via Flickr)

Summer: Someone please find me a shade tree. STAT. I think my skin is melting off.

I thought an image of my skin melting would be too icky, so I used this pic instead.

I thought an image of my skin melting would be too icky, so I used this pic instead.
(Image courtesy Steve Hankin via Flickr)

Fall: Uh, oh. It’s gonna get cold. Any day now. And it will happen like this: Monday – 70 degrees, Tuesday – 64, Wednesday – 72. Maybe winter won’t come? Thursday – 74. Friday – 69. Saturday 28 degrees! HA! Take that beautiful fall weather!

Denver Snow

How I see fall and winter in Denver. (Like I’ve said before, I do exaggerate sometimes)

Winter: Did someone move Colorado to the North Pole when I wasn’t looking? *Reference same picture as above*

CLUES BASED ON THE SCHOOL YEAR

Fall: Crap school is starting. How many weeks until my next break?

back to school

Image courtesy USAG – Humphreys via Flickr

Winter: At least we have two weeks off for Christmas. And they won’t expect us to do any work the two weeks before either. It’s like a whole month off!

advent calendar

How a kid sees the month of December
(Courtesy Rene MT via Flickr)

Spring: A week-long break for what? I don’t know. Just to celebrate spring? I’ll take it.

spring break

Image via Daniel Ramirez via Flickr

Summer: Utter and complete, joyous freedom!

(Courtesy Craigfinlay via Flickr)

(Courtesy Craigfinlay via Flickr)

CLUES FROM TV COMMERICALS

Spring: In three months I’ll be able to ditch the mittens and go to the pool and have water gun fights just like the folks on TV. Until then it’s just cruel to show people having summer fun. Oh and don’t forget to do your Christmas shopping.

Pool

Image courtesy David Goehring via Flickr

Summer: Why are you already advertising notebooks and colored pencils? It’s July for crying out loud. I hate you Wal-Mart. And by the way, school supplies can make great Christmas presents too.

Colored pencils

Image courtesy Luxt Designs via Flickr

Fall: It’s Christmas time! Really? I thought it was the end of October. All right, put away the scarecrow and pumpkins. I didn’t really want to give thanks anyway.

Christmas in October

Image courtesy Jo Naylor via Flickr

Winter: Now that Christmas is over, there are still more things to buy. And they’ll be on sale. Really, you should just start shopping for Christmas now.

Christmas ad

Image courtesy e r j k p r u n c z y k via Flickr

Now that I’m a bit older, I notice more than the clues above. I notice the little things–small details that my self-absorbed, youthful self never noticed. It’s funny how once the world stops revolving around you, you notice more of the world around you.

In the spring, I never noticed the first shoots of green emerging from the earth, or the first ladybug babies snacking on aphids. My younger self only noticed the obvious. It was getting warmer and lighter.

In the summer, I never noticed how certain perennials thrived in the 100 degree heat, while others wilted and browned. My younger self noticed it was hot.

In the fall, I saw the leaves turn and knew it was getting colder.

But now I have a new way of knowing fall is here. In addition to the fact that it’s cold, sometimes snowy, and apparently already Christmas, I know summer is behind us because of a small migratory bird. A bird that I never noticed before. In all honesty, I didn’t notice many birds when I was young, and probably could have only identified five that lived in Colorado.

But as I grew older things such as birds started to interest me, so I studied up on all the little guys that frequented my feeder.  The one I’m talking about today is the Dark-eyed Junco.

Snow Junco

These little guys arrive in Denver every fall and hang out under our feeder or our shrubs happily eating millet or whatever else they scrounge up. And then, one day in  spring, they all take flight and head north or to the mountains for the summer.

Last Monday, the first teeny, tiny snowflakes fell in the city. It was the same day I noticed the first pair of Juncos in the backyard.

That night I asked my husband to guess who I saw in the backyard. With some prompting (they come every winter, I’m talking about a bird, with dark eyes and their name begins with J) he finally got it.

My younger self would have relied on the snowflakes to know fall was here and winter was coming. Today, I don’t need the flakes. The Juncos are fair warning.

What are your favorite clues the seasons are changing? Do you notice things you never used to? Are you finished with your Christmas shopping? Do you exaggerate how cold or hot it is? Are you secretly happy when the back to school commercials begin? Please, share your thoughts!